‘we see it as a massive digitization of art collecting’ – interview with NFT platform SuperRare

pioneer NFT platform dedicated to native cryptoart

Since its launch in 2018, digital art The SuperRare platform has been at the forefront of the CryptoArt market. Built on the Ethereum blockchain, the curated marketplace was created with the goal of empowering the next generation of artists through technology, and has helped artists and collectors around the world sell over $280M USD of single releases. The art of NFT until now. The platform, founded by John Crain, Charles Crain and Jonathan Perkins, has launched many high-profile NFT drops over the years, including Krista Kim’s House of Marswhich marked the platform’s first sale over $500k last March, and DΞSTINATION HΞXAGONIA by Dutch DJ Don Diablo, which was the first base sale over $1m when it sold for $1,259,280 last year.

In 2021, SuperRare transitioned to a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) by launching $RARE, a coordination token that empowers its community to have a say and ultimately control the platform. “The idea is for the art market to be owned by the people, artists and collectors who use it,” co-founder & CPO of SuperRare Labs, Jonathan Perkins, tells designboom. On November 3, 2022, the platform also announced the launch of RarePass, an innovative new collectible pass that gives owners a year-long experience collecting CryptoArt with monthly drops from top SuperRare artists. The first pass will be auctioned off via SuperRare on November 15, with Dutch Auction prices for the remaining RarePasses to follow at a specific time. RarePass website.

“Our vision is the convergence of the online creative economy and the art market,” Perkins explains. ‘We see a future where there are millions of artists and billions of art collectors, and where anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone can become a collector.’ To find out more about SuperRare and the future of art collecting, read our full interview below.

'we see it as a major upgrade to art collecting' - interview with NFT forum SuperRare
Matt Kane, THE CRYPTOART GENERATION, 2022 | all images courtesy of SuperRare


designboom (DB): What is SuperRare?

Jonathan Perkins (JP): SuperRare is a digital art platform built on Ethereum. When we launched in 2018, we were the first place where artists could make their work as NFTs. There were a few other things going on with NFTs in the early days but we were the first platform focused on the art market. For nearly five years, we have maintained a high-level focus on art and culture, and we see the key innovation of NFTs as enabling collections to go digital. Since the beginning, we have been building a vibrant community of digital artists around the world and empowering collectors to collect digitally for the first time. We were very early in the market, and for the first few years we were very focused on helping to grow the collector market, because not many people were collecting digital art, it was kind of a new concept in 2018. In the last two years, there has been this huge explosion and the awareness of NFTs and which has enabled us to grow and continue to reinvest in the community.

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Last summer, in 2021, we announced that SuperRare was a DAO, which is Web3’s original way of being a user-controlled and user-owned platform. We launched $RARE, the SuperRare coordination token, which is what enables our community of artists and collectors to give feedback and ultimately manage the platform. They have a say on things like scheduling, fees, royalty structures, and so on. It’s like a distributed cooperative, or cooperative board. The idea is an art market owned by the people, artists and collectors who use it.

'we see it as a major upgrade to art collecting' - interview with NFT forum SuperRare
‘AI Generated Nude Image #1’ by Robbie Barrat (@videodrome) sold for $12k, to collector CuriousNFTs on the secondary market.

DB: Can anyone participate in the forum, or does it have to be a group of proven people, like specific artists or a collector who has collected a certain amount of work?

JP: Anyone can hold the $RARE token and there are different ways to participate. One major way to participate is to select Spaces, which are small galleries on SuperRare that are selected by the community, so by $RARE holders, basically. We have tried to make it fun, most of the crypto administration is very dry, boring, and very money forward, we are trying to be social and very forward art. We developed a kind of social game called Space Race, where galleries submit their proposal and present the type of community they would create on SuperRare, the type of art they would curate, and the connections they have. The community then votes for the top favorites from this group.

XCOPY’s ‘Right Click and Save As’ marked the highest sale on the platform for an artwork: $7,088,230 in December 2021.

DB: It also works a bit like a social network, doesn’t it?

JP: Yes, absolutely.

DB: How did you decide to create a social network dedicated to crypto art instead of just using existing ones?

JP: We think that art, creativity, and especially art collecting are inherently social. If there’s one thing social media has taught us, it’s that people love to share what they enjoy, interact and comment on things online. From the very early days of SuperRare, one of the first features we created was a user profile that you could follow. We used patterns from social networking sites because, as I said, we think art collecting should be social. One thing that is really interesting about collecting NFT art, unlike physical art, is that everyone can see your collection at any time. There is this early misconception that NFTs are supposed to be made so that only the owner can see the art. We had to explain this a million times in the early days, when people would say, oh, it’s a secret script, you lock it up, you hide the art in your basement. It’s the exact opposite, if you own an NFT everyone in the world can see the art and everyone in the world can see that you own it – that’s very powerful.

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Think about media on the Internet, for example, what is the most viewed video on YouTube? It might be the Baby Shark Dance, with over 11 billion views, which is very rare. To have something that everyone in the world has seen is a very rare event and there is value in that. We use the physics of the Internet, where everything is open and visible, for art collection and that makes it social.

'we see it as a major upgrade to art collecting' - interview with NFT forum SuperRare
‘Red’ by Pak, a single-pixel painting that sold for $7,154 and sparked controversy.

DB: How do you choose the featured artists? Can anyone sell their work on SuperRare or do you have a selection process? What do you look for in the artists you feature?

JP: The question of who becomes an artist on the stage immediately came up in the first days. We were just three guys writing code from a coffee shop in New York at the time and we said, well, the worst solution is to have a way for people to contact us, we’ll call them and if they look like a real artist we let them. It’s a difficult thing to handle and scale up. For the last few years, we’ve maintained this through a coordination team that reviews artist requests, and we try not to get too involved in that because there’s more demand from artists than there is from collectors, and there always has been. We didn’t want to have a platform with 100,000 artists and 1,000 collectors, because the market probably wouldn’t take off.

But all this is changing, and as I mentioned, the idea with DAO is that the control of SuperRare, is ultimately given by us, the founding team. Unlike, say, the Apple App Store, which is heavily controlled by an organization, we’re building a system where there are multiple moderators, each with independent control over listing artists and bringing them to SuperRare. We’re basically reinventing ourselves in this more decentralized way, where there will be several different managers. Instead of asking who the Super Labs team is in charge of, it could be like who is in charge of this museum, or who is this reporter in charge of. Through the selection process of the Space Race I mentioned earlier, we already have about 18 curators working on SupeRare, including well-known traditional art institutions, new art institutions of crypto-nature, some are collectors, some are artists, groups , and there is more interest. from more household name brands. The idea is that these managers join the network and are motivated to help artists join and sell their work.

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'we see it as a major upgrade to art collecting' - interview with NFT forum SuperRare
Krista Kim, Mars House, 2021 | more about designboom here

DB: What is the change in Ethereum conversion to proof of stake? How do you think this affects the artist community, and how do you see it affecting systems like yours?

JP: The Ethereum community is unique. Since they were first launched in 2015, there has been a strong desire to transform the platform into a more sustainable technology. The first seven years were this era where everyone knew this was wrong. It was using the same consensus mechanism as Bitcoin, which is electricity-intensive, and depending on where the electricity is used in the world, it gave different levels of carbon emissions. It has been a situation where we have all been very anxious to get out.

Long story short, for those of us who are building a very public, very social platform, and for which there is no inherent level of technical understanding, it has certainly been a problem. Many artists are offended by other people who hear, perhaps rightly or wrongly, the truth about what is going on. At the same time, we have always kept the mindset of knowing that this evolution is taking place, and that this was a temporary situation. So that’s all to say, I’m very, very happy that this change happened, and the program has gone very well so far. The fact is that Etherium uses almost 99.5%+ less electricity than it used to, and now we are talking to artists who have been waiting on the sidelines to start, whether it is because of their beliefs or feedback from their fans. One, I’m happy that the technology worked and that we got there without a glitch, and two, it’s really exciting to see the evolution of this community into a bright future.


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